ILQHA Honors Hall Of Fame Jerry and Elaine Martin Jerry and Elaine Martin have been remarkable ambassadors for Quarter Horse in Illinois for six decades from their farm near the small town of Watson IL. Throughout their career, Jerry and Elaine have had their hand in all aspects of the Quarter Horse breed. They were showmen in Open and Amateur, they were parents of Youth Exhibitors Keith and Kim, they stood stallions, foaled mares, they’ve been coaches to some of the nation’s best exhibitors and owners, and they have helped lead our State Association. Arguably though, from the perspective of those that know them, their greatest accomplishment is the development and education of several generations of youth kids into today’s horsemen, with many being nationally relevant owners and exhibitors. They’ve done this with honest hard work and modesty, though hopefully they recognize their own accomplishments with a sense of pride.
According to Jerry’s childhood friend Larry Maxwell, Jerry started showing in registered shows on a horse named Leo McCue, a 1953 grandson of Leo. AQHA exhibitor records are incomplete from that time, but Jerry and this gelding earned points in barrel racing and tie-down roping, and a Performance Register of Merit in 1963. Proudly he was also the 1961 IQHA Champion Calf Roping Horse. According to Larry, Jerry was an active roper for years until “he mangled his fingers putting up hay”. Jerry and Elaine opened Martin Training Stables and began accepting customers training horses for all-around, pleasure, showmanship, and horsemanship. Through their years of showing they made many Illinois State Fair Champions in pleasure and halter. In the 1950’s, 1960’s and early 1970’s there were no World Championship shows, so earning a title as a State Fair Champion in Illinois or any Mid-West state was a major win, as evidenced by the fact that the governor of the State presents you the award. The Martins also supported the Illinois Futurity and earned many wins there, as well as at the Congress. When asked about his early horses, Jerry is modest in reporting that he has so many horses over the years and that usually he got the young ones to start. But a few came to mind such as Leo McCue, Skips Teddy (by Skipper W), and Windessive. Jerry was still working a full time job as a Highway Supervisor for Effingham County. Obviously there was a ton of daily work to do and Elaine was the doer. At night, Jerry would train, ride, and everything else that needed done on the farm.
As specialty horses in AQHA competition began to dominate shows, Jerry and Elaine began to gravitate towards halter horses. The Martins had several good horses come through their barn as stock they prepared, but they also allowed and assisted do-it-yourself amateur exhibitors to board. They were particularly talented at preparing show babies for futurity competition. In fact one of the best they developed was a baby chestnut colt by the stallions Stylish Seeker, owned by Paul and Virginia Edzards. Jerry showed the baby at the Illinois Futurity, and then was instrumental in placing him in the ownership of Mr. Kenneth Barker of Shelbyville. Kenneth wanted a new show horse for his grandson Josh Weakley who had outgrown his first Youth Halter Mare, Sheba. This colt, Dee Style Is Money went on to become the All Time High Point AQHA Halter Point earner in Open, Amateur, and Youth competition with 1960.5 pts, $31,000 in Incentive Fund earnings, and 10 Honor Roll High Point Gelding Awards. Jerry and Elaine had three World Champion IBHA horses and multiple Superior Halter horses such as Ima Clue Connection for the Larry Family, and Im Truly A Star for Howard and Lea Ann Koch.
Jerry and Elaine worked hard to help develop the next generation of horsemen and women. During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s they opened up their barn to 4-H, FFA, and IQHYA kids state and local areas. These Saturdays were not just simple barn tours, but for multiple years, they partnered with Dr. Kevin Klein of the University of Illinois to provide live demo education of proper handling, preparation, conformation, and live judging contests. These were days of really hard work for them, with no financial compensation, but done with the spirit of stewardship of a breed they loved. There are many horsemen in Illinois today that can trace their horse activities to those clinics in Watson. It certainly opened our eyes to a level of horses and horsemanship that were far beyond our local saddle clubs and 4-H shows, and gave us goals to achieve for improvement.
Jerry and Elaine were very productive supporters of ILQHA, having filled vital roles over the years. Jerry served as the Southern Regional Vice President for a very long time. Elaine was the chairmen of the ILQHA Awards Committee for many years. In 1991 Elaine was named Honorary ILQHA Member for her work as Awards Chairman. They were instrumental in promotion of youth involvement in our breed as their son Keith was President of IJQHA and their daughter Kim was a IJQHA director. Jerry was one of the very first members of the AQHA Professional Horsemen association. Jerry was the ILQHA 1994 Horseman of the Year, presented by the Libertyville Saddle Shop and Sentinel, Voice of the Horse Industry in the Mid-West.
Even though the Martins have retired from training and showing themselves, and retired from their “day jobs”, they continue as teachers and ambassadors for the horse and their community. They are members of the First Church of God in Effingham; Jerry is a 40 yr member of the Watson Masonic Lodge; members of the Farm Bureau. Jerry continues to judge horse shows at the local saddle club level as well as at District FFA clinics, and county fairs in Illinois’ southern counties.